"Then Elisha said, Hear ye the word of the Lord; Thus saith the Lord, Tomorrow about this time shall a measure of fine flour be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria. Then a lord on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God, and said, Behold, if the Lord would make windows in heaven, might this thing be? And he said, Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof. And there were four leprous men at the entering in of the gate: and they said one to another, Why sit we here until we die? If we say, We will enter into the city, then the famine is in the city, and we shall die there: and if we sit still here, we die also. Now therefore come, and let us fall unto the host of the Syrians: if they save us alive, we shall live; and if they kill us, we shall but die. And they rose up in the twilight, to go unto the camp of the Syrians: and when they were come to the uttermost part of the camp of Syria, behold, there was no man there. For the Lord had made the host of the Syrians to hear a noise of chariots, and a noise of horses, even the noise of a great host: and they said one to another, Lo, the king of Israel hath hired against us the kings of the Hittites, and the kings of the Egyptians, to come upon us. Wherefore they arose and fled in the twilight, and left their tents, and their horses, and their asses, even the camp as it was, and fled for their life. And when these lepers came to the uttermost part of the camp, they went into one tent, and did eat and drink, and carried thence silver, and gold, and raiment, and went and hid it; and came again, and entered into another tent, and carried thence also, and went and hid it. Then they said one to another, We do not well: this day is a day of good tidings, and we hold our peace: if we tarry till the morning light, some mischief will come upon us: now therefore come, that we may go and tell the king's household" (2 Kings 7:1-9).
My dear friends in Pusan city and my beloved Christians, grace to all of you and peace from God, our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Even when I had preached to thousands and thousands of people, I had never felt as wonderful as this. I don't know why I feel so excited to be here now. This feeling is just like the feeling you have when you meet someone whom you dream about and meet for the first time in your life. You know what I mean.
I would like to tell you how your sins can be cleansed as white as snow. Do you know these songs in the hymnal? 'Happy day! Happy day! When Jesus Washed My Sins Away!' written by P. Doddrige in 1755; and 'Though Your Sins Be As Scarlet, They Shall Be As White As Snow' written by Fanny Jane Crosby in 1871.
Are you really sinless in your heart? Have you had the experience in your heart of these songs? You know these songs can be sung by anyone, but only reborn Christians, children of God, know the meanings. None of the religious, carnal Christians know. This is very important and I would like you to listen with open hearts.
All right then, just what does it mean to 'open your heart'? A few years ago, I once had a chance to lead the evangelistic meeting at Yea Chun Air Force Base. I preached the gospel to many officers and soldiers. That night I was invited to a small tea party. I was drinking a cup of tea in a chair when a lady, a pilot's wife, came to me. She asked me, "Sir, how can I open my heart?"
Since I was asked this question, I could not just say "Open your heart." Because people did not know how to open their hearts, even though most people know "Believe in Jesus Christ. Then your sins will be forgiven and you will be saved," the fact is most people have vague ideas about these concepts. Before I was saved, I had been going to church for a long time. Like most people, I did not know how to cleanse my sins. I thought that if I unconditionally repent and confess, then this is the way of living a Christian life and everything shall be taken care of; nevertheless, my sins still remained in my heart. I had no hope. I did not know what to do to clean the sin in my heart. Because I was once in the same situation you all are in, I do not want to tell you any complicated or difficult stories.
I would like to have a conversation with each of you during this evangelistic meeting. However, I am unable to talk to each of you individually, because you are many and I am one. Therefore, ask me all the questions in your hearts. I also, am going to ask you some questions during this session. I wish all of you to answer loudly when I ask you a question, but please answer me in your heart because we may create a lot of confusion since we are so many. I can not hear the words in your heart but I may know a little bit by just looking at your body language.
Don't you think it is hard to communicate with God in our hearts? Can we hear the voice of God? Can we see God with our own eyes? Or, can we touch Him? Open your heart, and communicate with me first. Bring all the questions you have in your hearts. Bring any kind of problem which you can't answer or any questionable thing which you cannot understand; such as 'How to be cleansed of sin? How to be a born again Christian? What is the way to solve all the problems in my heart?'
Who doesn't know that praying is good for you? And who doesn't know that reading the Bible is good for you? Who doesn't know sinning is bad? No, they don't! But we can't control ourselves. I have been going to the prisons to preach the gospel. I have never told them, "Do not commit sins." You know why? Because there is no one in the world who commit sins and doesn't know that sinning is bad. I wanted them to understand the way to win and overcome sins according to the Bible.
My beloved friends, I do not ask for any of your eagerness or any of your methods. I also do not want any of your resolutions. If your heart is open and the word of God comes into your heart, then Jesus Christ controls your heart. If Jesus dwells in your heart, I know that there is no more you or your need to fight against sin. You do not have to try to quit smoking, drinking, stealing, or thinking about the lusts of the flesh. Jesus, in your heart, will fight for you to win and overcome any and all kinds of sin. From the lusts of the flesh, from dirty thoughts, from hatred, and from abhorrent behavior, He surely make you free. That is why I am going to introduce Jesus Christ to all of you.
There are many people whose hearts are very far from Jesus Christ, even though they know Jesus and call His name. Jesus Christ is near you. I mean, He is waiting at your heart. He loves you deeply and tells you to open your heart. I strongly believe that Jesus Christ will work in your heart as you hear the word of God.
I'd like to tell you a folk tale. Once upon a time, there was a captain of a ship who lived in Spain. He set sail from harbor to harbor. Because he voyaged to so many ports of so many countries, he came home only once a month, once every three months, or once every six months. He had a son and whenever he came back from a voyage, he would always hug and kiss him. He usually brought him some gifts. When the time came to set sail to other harbors of different countries, he had to leave his son feeling sorrowful, he always said, "I will be back in a while. Be well with mother."
One day, he came back from a long journey and he greeted his son. He loved his son very much. But the time came to set sail for other ports, as usual, but his son would not let him go. So he made a promise that he would take his son with him on the next trip. Several months passed and the captain came home. The son was very happy to see his father again because he could go on board with him. The captain could not break his promise, so he conceded to take him along. The son was about fifteen years old and his mother was worried about him because he was too young to be on board. The captain relieved her anxiety by saying, "Don't worry. It's all right. This trip is not a long one."
The night before the voyage the boy could not fall asleep because of his excitement of going on board. The captain told his son to bring things with which to entertain himself because there would be nothing to do. All they would have is the sky and the sea. So he did as his father told him. He took toys and story books and he also put his best friend, a monkey on board.
Finally, the ship was put out to sea and signaled with a "Tuoooo" sound. He was busy watching seagulls, waves, and many different kinds of fish. The boat was slowly floating on the salty water. Soon they were in the middle of the ocean. There were no more seagulls he could watch, so he began playing with his best friend, the monkey, often while his father and the sailors were busy.
One day, as usual, they played in a room. Suddenly, the monkey took the son's hat and ran away. The boy chased after his hat. To the cabin, to the deck, round and round, to here, and to there. At last, the monkey went up to a head mast. The boy ran after it and said, "Now I can catch you." When he was about to reach the monkey, it would climb about three steps higher. So, he climbed up more to reach it, then it climbed even higher. The boy chased up after the monkey without giving a thought as to how far he had climbed. Finally, the monkey was standing on the top of the mast. "There are no more places you can go." He said to the monkey. But when he was about to grasp it, the monkey just simply jumped from the top of the mast to another mast. The boy realized then that he had come so far up, as he looked down from the top of the mast. He felt giddy and sailors seemed to be as small as ants. The sight made him lose the strength in his hands. He was so scared. He was in a fearful situation and he could not go down. He was losing the power in his legs.
At that time, a sailor who was working on the deck, saw the poor boy. "Oh, no! It is the captain's boy," the sailor shouted. "Who can climb up and carry him down?"
The sailors were making a great commotion about this matter. The boy was slowly losing the strength in his arms, but he still held on tightly. He knew he would die if he let go of the mast. A sailor ran to the captain and cried,
"Captain! Come quick, hurry!"
"What's happening?" the captain asked.
"Your son is on the top of the mast."
He came out and saw his son trembling with fear and crying,
"How did it happen?" asked the frustrated captain.
One of sailors told him all the details of what had happened. After he had heard everything, he closed his eyes to think for awhile; unexpectedly, he took his gun out. The sailors thought, 'What use is it to kill the monkey now?' The captain looked at his son while holding his gun and said,
"Son, can you hear me?"
"Yes, dad, I can hear you!" he said.
He suddenly pointed the gun at him and said,
"Son, jump into the ocean! If you don't, I will shoot you. You must jump into the water before I count to five, or else, I will shoot."
The captain was very serious. The son knew his father. He said things once, then he would actually do them, no matter what. The son thought, 'I can stay here and die or chance jumping into the ocean.'
It was frightening to let his hands go, but the gun was even more frightening than jumping into the water, so he got ready to jump.
"One!" The captain started counting.
"Two!" The captain looked at him with fear.
"Three!" At that sound, the son let his hands go and kicked the mast as hard as he could. He fell into the water. Sailors waited there and rescued him out of the water.
My beloved friends! I am not trying to disturb your heart. Please give yourself a chance to have a sincere thought about your Christian life once more.
People fast, pray all night, and even make new resolutions every New Year, but you know what? There's something much harder or to understand and that's a Christian life. If you ask a taxi driver,
"Excuse me, do you believe in Jesus?"
"Don't tell me about the story of Jesus. I don't have time to believe in Jesus," he will say.
If you ask a police officer,
"Officer! Do you believe in Jesus?"
"I am very busy and I have no time to go to church," he will answer.
What about a medical doctor?
"Sir, do you believe in Jesus?"
"Dear me! I don't know why I became a doctor. I always have to be with grim looking patients, even on such a fine spring day. The weather's perfect for a picnic. You know, I would like to believe in Jesus, but I couldn't," he might respond.
How about asking a soldier?
"Do you believe in Jesus?"
"We have our army regulations and I am so busy fulfilling my duties, so I will believe in Him later," he might answer.
To a businessman,
"Sir! Do you believe in Jesus?"
"Let me make some money and marry off my children. After this, I will go to a church to believe in Jesus. Look, pastor! You may be unaware of this kind of business. To do this business, we can not be truthful with the buyers! One particular kind of merchandise, which we paid $25 per item for, we say 'our outlay was $50' to convince the customers that I sell good products for cheap prices. Of course I have to lie to them all the time. Otherwise, I could not make a $25 profit per item. And how can I believe Jesus while I am in the middle of a world of lies? I would rather believe in Jesus after I'm clear of this business," he will reply.
Most people think they are not able to believe in Jesus because of their bad habits. For example, "I can not believe in Jesus because I have a drinking problem." or "I can not believe in Jesus because of my smoking problem."
As I described earlier, I had been ministering to pilots on an Air Force Base. There were many souls and I asked them,
"My friends! Raise your hands if you think it is hard to believe in Jesus!"
And many souls raised their hands.
"Here is the commander beside me!" I said. And I politely asked Major Park, the commander, to stand up.
"Major! Could you stand up for me, please?" So he stood up before the pilots. And I asked them,
"Now, please raise your hands, if you think it is hard to believe that this commander is Major Park?"
No one raised a hand. So, I asked,
"It is not hard to believe that he is your commander, then why is it so hard to believe in Jesus?"
"Is this because Jesus is not better than the commander?"
You see, because we do not know the concept of believing in Jesus, that is why it is so hard to believe in Jesus!
Dear friends! I am so happy that I can trust my wife. That doesn't mean my wife is pretty or an upstanding person. I am also very happy about being able to trust my children. If I don't trust my children, I will always worry about them in my heart.
Believing Jesus is so comfortable and a very easy thing to do. Jesus said in Matthew 11:28, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Most people do believe in Jesus, but never obtain peace in their heart. Jesus clearly said that, "I will give you rest." They say, they have faith to believe in Jesus, but they don't have rest in Him. Then, this is not proper faith at all. The Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, "Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." But, if you worry habitually, even though you believe in Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, there is something wrong. Do you have to give some thought to this matter? What I mean is, I think you'd better think about your belief. Frequently, I ask this kind of question, "If you do everything according to the word of God, such as praying zealously, giving tithes regularly, keeping the Sabbath, and not committing sins by faith and by trusting in the Lord, then will you go to heaven?" You might reply, "Everyone knows about this."
But my friend, is it possible? Raise your hand, whoever can keep all the laws of God among you. Show me, if you have never skipped giving a tithe, not even once in your life, raise your hand please. Raise your hand, anybody who has never skipped church on Sunday in your life. Raise your hand, if you have never lied at all. Raise your hand, if you have never hated others at all? Raise your hand, if you have never thought about adultery.
Look, my friends! We are people who are unable to reach the level of God. We are just like the boy who held on to the mast so tightly, but sooner or later, he had to let it go. We are in the situation. God, our Father, opens the new way of the gospel of Jesus to us. That is the secret way which is in the Bible.
My beloved friends, as you want to have a true and faithful life, so Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit want to sincerely speak to your heart. The way of God, hidden in the Bible, is totally different from the thoughts you have. If you perceive the secret in the Bible, it is easy to cleanse your sins. It is too hard for me to cleanse my sins, but it is very easy when I go before the Lord and He cleanses my sins. It is really hard for me to overcome my sins, but it is easy for Jesus to overcome my sins.
I would like to tell you the words of God. Now let me talk about this by reading a verse in 2 Kings 7:1;
"Then Elisha said, Hear ye the word of the Lord; Thus saith the Lord, Tomorrow about this time shall a measure of fine flour be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria."
In the Old Testament era, Israel was attacked by the country of Syria. Like Red China has the Great Wall for protection against its enemies, Israel used to have the city of Samaria surrounded by a great wall. When Israel thought that there was no hope to win the battle, they closed the gate. It wasn't like today, no missiles or atomic bombs, so, there was no way to open the gate when it was shut. Syrian soldiers sieged the castle and were waiting until the Israelites were exhausted and surrendered themselves to the Syrians.
When the Israelites built the wall for protection, they only built around the city, but did not include any of the farmlands. Therefore, there was a great famine in the city after a year had passed. Two years passed, and finally three years passed. They were faced with mass starvation. It was very serious; we can see in the Bible that young wives ate their children, because they could not bear their starvation. It's in 2 Kings 6:28-29. Because she could not eat her child herself, she conspired with her neighbor, "Let's boil your son today, and we can boil my son tomorrow." The next day they ate one of the sons and then the woman went to her neighbor to have her son, but the neighbor hid her son and would not give him up. The Israelites were in a horrible situation.
One day Elisha, the prophet, the servant of God, said, "Hear ye the word of the Lord; Thus saith the Lord, Tomorrow about this time shall a measure of fine flour be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria" (2 Kings 7:1). This means that the price of grain shall be a lot lower in the following day compared to the price it used to be during the famine.
Long time ago, Korea also had a great famine. And at that time, Korea did not have any developed transportation like it does nowadays. Because Korea is a mountainous region, it was hard to move from one place to another. So people just starved to death. Therefore, people had some kind of trading method developed to avoid the famine. The trading method was called 'Pat chuk bea mi' or 'Hin chuk bea mi' which meant 'If you give me a bowl of soup, I will give you my farmland.' They traded their farmland for just a bowl of soup. More or less, I think the Israelites were in a similar situation as the Koreans used to be in. During this difficult and horrible situation, in the city of Samaria, Elisha said,
"A measure of fine flour be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria."
But the officer of the king did not believe it. He replied,
"Behold, if the Lord would make windows in heaven, might this thing be?"
Therefore, Elisha, the prophet of God answered,
"Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof."
At the same time, lepers were living outside of the city. Because of the law, they could not dwell within the city gates. Their families used to give them food, and clothes every morning, but because of the great famine, they could not get anything at all from their families. For this reason, most of the lepers died, only four lepers were left. These four lepers were talking to one another, "Listen! Our friends lepers died and our cousins died by starvation; now, then, who is next? You and I are going to die sooner or later. So, shall we wait to die here just like this?"
"Even if we go to the city, we can not obtain anything at all." "All right. Why don't we go to the camp of the Syrians to be captured ourselves and if they kill us, we shall but die. Anyway, it is better than just waiting for death here. Okay?" The others answered, "So be it. Let's go."
They were heading towards the troops of the Syrians. Yes! They were walking towards the camp of the Syrians, step by step. They were critically ill; some of them had lost a leg, others had lost fingers, etc. At dusk, they were slipping and falling; they could not walk easily, because of the fatigue and the starvation.
God used this miserable march to make great sound effects. The sound of the falling lepers became the sound of a great multitude of soldiers. So, when the Syrians heard the sound, they thought that the Israelites bought other nations' military forces to attack them. It hastened them to flee and leave their horses and their donkeys intact.
So, when the four lepers finally got there, the Syrians had deserted the area completely. They could not see any of the soldiers. There were plenty of food, clothes, and even treasures all over the place. How do you think they felt, at that time when they were faced with all the food, from the condition of their starvation?
Friends! This story tells us the secret of the spiritual life; how to supply the plenty of the rich food of life to the people whose spirits are not yet alive, but dead. The reason for this story is in the Bible is to tell us about our hearts and our filthy minds. Because of these, our spiritual life was getting sick, fading away and dying. Even though we ate the words of God, we could not grow stronger because it was not a spiritual provision.
I spent my childhood next to the Nakdong River and my father had a huge peanut farm at that time. Because of that reason, my family used to eat a lot of peanuts in the fall, every year. We ate these in many ways; we fried them, boiled them, put peanuts in our rice, and ate them raw, etc. Whenever I went to school, I always brought a handful of peanuts in my lunch box. And because of these, I had many friends. I had lots of peanuts. They were so delicious. But if you chew a peanut which just has come out of its shell, it does not taste right. The peanut must be peeled away from its film which covers a kernel of the peanut. You should peel this film to have the delicious tasting kernel. It's the same with gingko nuts, the walnuts, and many other kinds of nuts.
Have you ever had a walnut in your life? You know what! If you take a walnut from a walnut tree for the very first time, it has an offensive odor. If you break this walnut shell and eat the kernel, it tastes delicious.
Not only this! Every fall, children in Korea, usually go underneath chestnut trees. When a chestnut bur falls down, it falls on the children. Even though they get hurt and are in pain, they are to take the pain to gather them. You know why? Because they have tasted the delicious nuts in the chestnut shell. What if you were to just bite the chestnut shell itself? You might not eat anything that day.
You see, the chestnut's pulp is delicious, but not the shell. The words of God are just like this, you know? God's words, also have an inside and an outside. If you do not eat the inside and just eat the outside, you might say, "People say the words of God are so delicious, but why am I getting so sleepy?"
Whenever we ride in the car, my wife always falls asleep. I think it would be better to turn our car into a bedroom and sleep there, because my wife sleeps better in the car than at home! From time to time, I have to go a long distance with my wife, but she usually starts to sleep as soon as the car moves. I also used to sleep a lot, but not like my wife. You know when I would sleep? When I read the Bible. This has happened not only to me, but to many people. Most people say, "The more Bibles that are sold, the less sleeping pills are sold." I used to have trouble falling asleep, but whenever I read the Bible, I fell into such a sleep that I did not know whether I was reading the Hebrew words or the Greek words. You may laugh, but many of you are like that. I don't know each of you, but am I right? Why do you sleep whenever you read the Bible? What is the reason for being sleepy when you read the Bible, the love letter, which says that God loves you. The reason is that you only see the outside of the shell, but you have not tasted what's inside. You do not know the spiritual meaning, so you just believe it without knowing what it means. Many people say, "It is a blessing to believe the Bible without understanding it." Now my friends, let's believe the Bible, the words of God, not without understanding, but with understanding, OK?
Thanks to Pastor Byung Seok Woo, I was invited to this evangelical meeting, 'The Secret of Forgiveness of Sins and Being Born Again.' Let's say I go to Seoul after I finish this conference. There I write a letter to Pastor Byung Seok Woo from Seoul like this:
"Dear Pastor Byung Seok Woo, I thank you for everything you did during the conference in Pusan. Greetings to those to whom you minister. How is your family? We are all doing fine in Christ. The winds are blowing strong enough to make us feel the fall. The fall flowers have burst into blossom everywhere and the sky is blue in Seoul. Because the fall is the season of reading books, we read the Bible more and more. Pastor Woo, I invite you to my wife's birthday celebration on October 30th. I will prepare many delicious foods save. Please come."
A couple of days later, Pastor Woo receives the letter and read it. His wife who is beside him, asks him,
"Where did this letter come from?"
"Oh, this letter came from Pastor Park." Woo said.
"What did he say?" Woo's wife asks.
"He said the fall flowers have burst into blossom in Seoul." Woo answers.
"What else did he say?" Pastor Woo's church members ask.
"Strong winds blow in Seoul." Pastor Woo says.
My friends, if I wrote a letter to him like this, and he responded to them in this manner, was he answering their question? "Strong winds blow in Seoul." This is not the right answer. Of course, winds blow, fall flowers have burst, and the sky is blue. These were in the letter, but what are the key words? "I invite you to my wife's birthday party on October 30th, please come." These are the key words. You can memorize this letter, but if you do not know the key words, then you do not know why he wrote the letter to you.
Just like this, you even memorize the Bible Old Testament, New Testament and structual theology. If you do not know the key words which God really tells us, you are just the same as a person who doesn't know the Bible at all. Listen! The Bible seems like a story book or a history book of Israel, but there is God's love toward us in the Bible.
Let's say, I go to your house one day. There you are gathering potatoes out from the field. I arrive starving from the many days of traveling without food. Because of my reputation of being dignified, I could not ask for potatoes.
"Oh! You have very fine potatoes." I would say.
"Is that right? Pastor, do you really think so?" You may ask me.
"Are they delicious when they are steamed?" I would ask.
"Yes, of course." You may reply.
"I have loved those potatoes since I was young." I would say.
"Really? Me too! Our potatoes are really good, don't you think so? OK! Now, why don't you go inside and have some rest?"
If he says this, does he know my heart? He does not know my heart. My friends, I did not ask for potatoes, but when I said "They are delicious when steamed, I love those potatoes, and they look very delicious", he should have realized what I really wanted. Don't you think so? I did not say he should cook those potatoes for me, but there were some words which showed my heart of wanting to have those potatoes, right? A man who loves a girl for the first time in his life, cannot tell her that "I love you," because he is shy, so he just hangs around her side. She soon knows that he likes her, right?
God loves us and He tells us through our experienes to make us understand His great and enormous will, which we do not know fully. If we do not find what He wants us to do in the Bible, we are people who do not know the will of God; even if we memorize all the words of God in the Bible. Therefore, it is important to know why He wrote His words in the Bible and to find out what He is trying to tell us in the Bible.
Now then, my friends, what is it that God wants to tell us through the verses which we have read? Those are the steps of spreading the gospel which can save people who can only die if left on their own; just like the Israelites who were in the city of Samaria. Let's say that it is not the Israelites problem, but ours!
Is there anyone who can not stand before the Lord because of sin, even though he is smart, well educated, does business well, or is very healthy, physically? Is there anyone who is struggling with sins which are hidden in one's heart for a long time without cleaning them, even though one goes to church, reads the Bible, and prays zealously? Whoever is like this must surely die. Whatever you do, give a tithe, whether you go to church on Sunday or do all the good works possible, you can not make it to go to heaven with sins.
God created the universe; the heavens and the earth. God made the beautiful garden of Eden. But the world became corrupt and fell into sin, because sin had come into the garden. God never wants to have any kind of sin in His new world, Heaven.
I came here, to Pusan, by airplane from Seoul. I went to Seoul airport, and the police officers were asking me to cooperate with them in searching my bags. They wanted to know whether I was a North Korean spy who was trying to blow up the airplane or not. "Open the bag, please!" an officer said. I opened the bag and as soon as he saw the Bible, he said, "Go in, please!" So, I came to Pusan and they did the same thing, the inspection. "What is in the bag?" an officer asked. "Oh! A Bible is in the bag." I said. "Please, go in, sir." he told me. They have to inspect us to see if we are spys or smugglers. If we are all good people, then they have no reason to inspect us, right? Why do they inspect us? Why do we have to go through all this trouble? Very recently, a man did something terrible in the Seoul Kimpo Airport. They do not know who is going to do something like this again, therefore, they must search all baggage and we must cooperate with them.
Just like, the inspectors at the airport and at the gate, there are inspectors in Heaven. It is not so people who have hand grenades or bombs that can not get through the gate of Heaven, but people who have sins. If a sinner tries to get in through the gate of Heaven, the alarm goes off and makes a sound.
"You can not go in." He will say.
"Lord, I always gave tithes all the time!" A sinner will say.
"Even though, you did. No! You cannot go in." He will say.
"Oh, no! I helped many poor people," a sinner will say.
"No, you cannot go in." He will say.
"I also prayed for a hundred days, continuously," a sinner will say.
"I said, you cannot go in," He will say.
"I also ran the orphanage," a sinner will say.
"Even so, you can not go in." He will say.
Bribes are not taken in Heaven. And it doesn't matter if you have a good background, if you are intelligent, or you are people with a good family name. If you have sins, you can not get into Heaven at all. Many people deceive themselves. 'I am such a faithful believer so He will allow me to get in, even though I have some sins. Although I have some sins He will not keep me from going to Heaven. He is the God of love.'
Don't get any wrong ideas. God is also just. Don't be misled. He is the God of impartiality. He cannot let you, a sinner, into Heaven and send another sinner into Hell, the lake of fire. Therefore, He will not allow any sinners at all in Heaven. Because of this reason, God sent us His only Son to clean our sins.
As I lead my church, I always sincerely ask each of my church members whether they are born again Christians. You know why? Because I used to be like them, who still suffer from sin. The reason I go to prison to preach the gospel is that I believe that I would be a prisoner as well if there was no Jesus! I always tell them that I am neither a good person, nor do I have fewer sins than you have.
I was evil and lustful. I had a lot of evil thoughts in my heart. The reason I stand here is because of Jesus. Once, I was in deep trouble because of sin. I tried not to sin. I tried hard and tried many different ways not to sin. But it was not working at all. I tried to love other people, but it didn't work. People saw me as a member of the youth group, a member of the church choir, and a teacher of Sunday school, but I was a man who was always struggling with sins of which only I knew. Because of sins, I went to many pastors to ask,
"Pastor, how can I clean my sins?" They always said, "Repent!" So I repented, but I was still not free from the sins. In 1 John 1:9,
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
I did not understand this verse. Therefore, I thought that as I confessed all my sins, one by one, then all my sins would be cleansed. But after I was saved, I realized that it means something different from what I thought it had meant.
"If we confess our sins ...",
right? My friend, what are the sins? Stealing, lying, killing, and raping are these sins? No. These are not the sins. My friend, what is leprosy? If fingers fall off, eyebrows drop off, and even the nose is distorted, then is this leprosy? No, not at all. These are symptoms of leprosy, not the leprosy itself. What is typhoid? Is having a high fever and the loss of hair, typhoid? No, that is not typhoid. Those are the symptoms of typhoid when it is in the body. If you catch a cold, then you cough, and get a runny nose, but this is not the virus itself. These are the symptoms of the cold.
Sin and the symptoms of sin are totally different from each other. Stealing, lying, killing, raping, or adultery are the results of sin. It always happens when you have sin. Then, if you have not done these things; adultery, stealing, etc., then are you sinless? No, these people have sin, but the symptoms of sin can't be seen yet.
The Bible tells us that leprosy is like sin. People say you can have leprosy 'without knowing it for three years, only knowing yourself for three years, and knowing it publically for three years.' One day, if a man notices a sign of the leprosy, then is he a leper from that point, right? No, he was already a leper, it was merely revealed through the body at that time! Before it showed on the body, he was already a leper.
Similarily the Bible says that you are sinners even though you did not hate anyone, you didn't commit adultery, you didn't kill, and you didn't steal. Do you understand? I do not know why, but someone might say, "Pastor, don't say that word. Sinner, sinner, over and over again. Quit doing that."
One day, a man phoned me,
"Pastor, I'd like to meet you!"
"Yes, of course, please visit or do." I gave him my address.
"Pastor, I just got out of prison for the ninth time. I am just that way. Pastor, give me some money." He was politely asking me, but threateningly.
"Do you know who I am?" I asked.
"You are a pastor." He said.
"What does a pastor do? Is he a money giver? Is he a man who gives you food?" I said.
"No, not at all."
"The pastor is a person who gives you spiritual food. Sit down here, please. Of course, it is important to give you some money to help you, but what is more important is that you receive salvation. Because the pastor is a man who gives you spiritual food, please listen to me!" I said. And I preached the gospel.
"Pastor! I know all this."
"Pastor! Don't say that word, sinner again and again!"
"Well! I don't want to say it, but you must be free from sin!" I said.
Most people are in sin. Stealing, lying, committing adultery, and killing are not the problems, but the character which makes you do is the problem. Do you feel good when you hear gossiping about a person whom you hate? Are you thrilled when you hear hateful words about someone? Are you zealous when you learn that your neighbor continuously succeeds in his business or in his work? Do you feel bad when you hear that your cousin continuously succeeds in his business or in his work? If you have these kind of feelings in your heart, then, it means that you are already in the sickness of sin.
It's as if you are a leper, your fingers and eyebrows are falling off. And if you have typhoid fever, you will have a high fever and you will lose your hair. It is natural to hate someone, to kill someone, to commit adultery and to steal things because of the sickness of the sin nature. Can you cure a patient with typhoid fever by just lowering the high temperature? If a leper wraps his fingers with bandages to stop them from falling off? No! You must cure the disease. My friends, do you understand? If you do not understand what it means, please take this book and read it again to help you understand.
Look, my friends! Sin and crimes are totally different! If you steal, lie, kill, and rape, then you are committing crimes, not sin. In the Bible, sins are very clearly separated from crimes;
"If we confess our sins ... ";
it talks about our sins to confess, not our crimes.
What if a spy surrenders himself to the authorities, according to the Korean law, he will be free from punishment. He will be free; he may become our neighbor. The government gives him a place to live and a job. If I am a spy, how can I surrender myself to the authorities? Should I say "Sir, I planned to blow up a bridge. I planned to kill the President (prominent person). I planned to spy out the top military secret. Please forgive me."
Obviously this is not the way to surrender oneself to an authoritative figure. Those are the results of being a spy; if I want to surrender myself to the authorities, all I need to say is "I am a spy," to receive the forgiveness of my sins. Then, all the other details that I once planned will be forgiven as well. As I confess that, "I am a spy, and I was ordered to come here." I merely repent that "I am basically a man with a sinful nature."; This is the correct way to confess, instead of just admitting to the offense committed.
There was a king, called David in the Old Testament. One day David committed adultery with the wife of his subordinate. And in order to hide the affair, he killed her husband. Afterwards, David suffered from the agony of this sin. Because his agony was too great to bear, he repented to the Lord. Do you know how he repented?
"My Father in Heaven, I just walked on the roof of my palace, and saw a beautiful woman, and just took her in my palace, and laid with her and then, she became pregnant. Lord forgive me." He did not repent like this. Look at Psalms 51:5, "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me." He did not repent the sin he committed, but he repented that because he was a man who was born a sinner by nature, therefore, the only thing he could do was committing sins.
I am a man who is full of sins. My friends, repenting the results of sin is totally different from repenting that the nature and cause of your sin; namely that you are naturally a sinner.
If a man asked me,
"Can you drive?" Neither would I say,
"No, I don't know how to use turn signals. I am not very good at stopping a vehicle. I do not know how to hold a steering wheel. I do not know how to start an engine. I do not know how to make lane changes. I do not know how to make a 'U' turn and I am not good at driving on the highway."
If I do not know how to drive, I will simply say that,
"I am not a driver."
Friends, don't you agree? If I can do everything well except using turn signals, then I say,
"I am not good at using turn signals." If I say,
"I am not good at stepping on the brake pedal", then it means that I can do everything well, except for stepping on the brake pedal.
Our sin is just like this. If you did not commit any sin except the sin of hating others, then you may simply say "I hated others", this is a good confession. Do you understand? But folks, because we are full of evil, and basically rooted in sin, we are children of sins. We try not to commit sin but we will not succeed because of our sinful nature.
Therefore you need to have a new heart which will keep you from committing sins. A person who tries to live a sincere Christian life and tries to live a life without committing sins, soon finds out that it is impossible to live without committing sins. A person who practices his Christian life half-heartedly, thinks that he will not commit sins, if he tries hard. But a person who sincerely tries to serve the Lord, a person who makes an effort not to sin, finds he cannot do it. Therefore, he gives up all his efforts by saying "I can't do this anymore." This is the statement of 1 John 1:9. Because we were born sinners; if our fundamental sin is forgiven then all sins are automatically forgiven.
Friends, when the authorities pardons a spy who gives himself up, do they say, "We will forgive you for being a spy, but we can not forgive you for spying out the land." or "We can forgive you as a spy but not for trying to kill our President."? When the spy is forgiven, he is forgiven not only for what he has done but for what he was planning to do.
Therefore, in the verse, 1 John 1:9,
"If we confess our sins ..."
these words mean that we should kneel saying, "Lord, although I tried, it would not work because I am fundamentally a sinner. Please, save me, Lord." Then all the sins will be forgiven by the Lord. Because many people don't know this, they misunderstand the Bible and just repent without any knowledge of the Bible. Some people have written down their sins in a notebook and have burnt it because they do not know what to do with their sins. Where in the Bible does it say that all sins shall be cleansed if you burn a paper listing the sins?
People are interested if someone says that he can forgive sins, because they want to be cleansed from their sins. Nowadays many religious leaders are making fools of believers in this matter of cleansing sins. Leaders of the ancient Roman Catholic Church have left their mark in history. We well know about the exemption tickets for people who wanted to be cleansed from their sins, and that the leaders fooled them into buying those tickets by saying, "If you buy these exemption tickets, you may go to Heaven." They did not know how their sins could be cleansed. Likewise, these days many people just want to believe God without the knowledge of what He tells them to do in the Bible.
My beloved friends! I do not know how long you have been attending your church, but do you know exactly how to be cleansed of your sins? Do you know how to cleanse your sins as white as snow? It is not just believing Jesus vaguely, and expecting that your sins will be cleansed. Sins must be cleansed completely and properly.
"Happy day! Happy day! When Jesus washed my sins away!" Just like this hymn, you must have this specific day in your life; the day of redemption. You do need to have this day. If you do not have this particular day, the Holy Spirit can not come into your heart, because your sins come between you and God. Because you do not have God's Holy Spirit in your heart, your Christian life will be hard to manage even when you try your best. If you work hard on your Christian life, it seems to be working out very well. But if you don't try hard, then it doesn't seem to be working well, because you don't have the Helper, the Holy Spirit in you.
Well, I used to be like that and suffered from sins, but I had my sins forgiven forever in 1962 by the grace of Jesus. Since then, Jesus has been with me. My mind has been changed so many times, and I had lost the faith and fallen many times, but Jesus has been so faithful to me and has never left me, therefore, I am happier as life goes on. Now Jesus lives in me. I am a person who naturally sins, but since I have entrusted myself to the Lord Jesus, He takes care of my sin.
I have a son who is in sixth grade. My son always wanted to help me with my work. Last winter we had a lot of snow, so I had to put snow tires on my car. I asked my son to change the tires.
"Son, could you change the tires on my car?" I asked.
"OK! Dad." He said.
I helped him tighten the bolts, but he did the rest very well. Maybe, he thought that he could drive too because he knew how to change the tires. He asked me to allow him to drive.
"Dad! Can I drive the car just once, please?" He asked.
"No!" I said.
"Dad! Just once, please ..." He asked again.
I really felt like taking him to a big open area to let him drive the car. My son thought it was easy to drive a car because I drove a car easily. He thought that he could drive, but I knew that he could not drive, therefore I could not allow him to drive.
We really do not know ourselves; so even when we try not to commit sins, we thinks it's possible. Friends, the only way to overcome sin is that you just simply surrender yourself to sins. Then you will be victorious. Jesus can not help a person who tries hard to fight his sins, but He will help a person who repents that he can not beat the sins. Accordingly, you should surrender yourself to sins. Whoever wants to win, shall lose; whoever wants to lose, shall win. It's more of a blessing to give than it is to receive. "He that finds his life shall lose it; and he that loses his life for My sake, shall find it." This is God's way.
Anyhow, I have so many things to tell you but time goes by quickly so whenever I talk about the Bible. Let me talk just a little bit more.
There was a certain chief in Africa. One day, he was passing by a village, and he saw some children playing with a leopard.
"Children! What is that?" he asked surprisingly.
"Oh! This is a baby leopard. My dad caught it in the jungle." A boy replied proudly.
"No! Children! Do not play with the leopard." He said very sharply.
"But this one is different from the others." They said.
"How is it different?" He asked curiously.
"It has been fed only soups."
"We never fed it any meat at all."
"Therefore, it is very gentle and tender." They replied with confidence.
"No! Children! Now it may be gentle, but when it grows up, it will be changed. A leopard is a leopard. Get rid of the leopard. It must be killed." The chief shouted.
"But, Sir! This leopard is so gentle, look!" They begged.
Because they had begged insistently he let them keep it. It grew to full size eating only soups. Because it had grown up without any meat, it was as gentle as a sheep. They ran with it, they rode on it and they went into the jungle with it. Because they went to the jungle with the leopard, they were never scared at all. "What a good more it is to keep it! I don't know why the chief was so mad at us because of the leopard. It's so gentle. He didn't know that if we don't feed it meat, there shouldn't be any problem." They said each other with pride.
It developed into a full grown male. One day, as usual, they went into the jungle with the leopard. Three boys went with it. Suddenly, one of them fell from a cliff screaming. The two other boys ran after him along the path, but the leopard jumped down into the valley where the boy was. When the leopard saw the boy laying on the ground bleeding, it just simply licked his blood to clean his wound. After the first and then the second lick of blood, it began to suck his blood rapidly. And suddenly, the color of its eyes changed. Then, with its sharp claws, the leopard tore the boy's chest and ate him. It also ate the other two boys when they came down to their friend. The leopard was truly a leopard. It seemed to be as tender as a sheep, but it could not cast out the leopard's nature. It could be hidden, but it was revealed in the end.
Friends! You, folks, seem to be very good natured people, and you seem to be so holy and so well-mannered. But we, all, have a sinful nature in our hearts. The Lord says that our sinful nature which is hidden in us has to be cut off instead of dealing with the results of sins like stealing or lying. He says that you must be free from this sinful nature. Jesus came to not only cleanse your sins but to free you from the sinful nature. Jesus was nailed to the cross to set us free from sin. Jesus gave His blood to set us free from sin.
If you say that you believe but you are still not free from sin, then, you are still a slave of the sins. You still have to fight against sin. You still have to suffer because of sin.
"Hear ye the word of the Lord; Thus saith the Lord, Tomorrow about this time shall a measure of fine flour be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria." (2 Kings 7:1).
The servant of God said. But the officer of the king said to the servant of God, "Ha! Ha! Don't make me laugh. Even though the Lord would make windows in heaven, how could it be. We, all die in the starvation of famines. How could it change in one day?"
"Thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof."
The servant of God said.
Friends, I'd like to conclude with saying: Please pay a little more attention to this. There is the certain way that your heart should be, if you want to change your life, if you want to clean your heart, or if you want to be born again. What do you comprehend when you hear the words of God? "Tomorrow about this time shall a measure of fine flour be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria." When the officer heard that, it didn't make any sense, out of the question, impossible, and a farfetched story which he could not believe. Because God is almighty and full of wisdom, we can not understand Him at all.
Jesus did not tell us things which are pleasing to the ears. As a pastor I am embarrassed with my sermons because many people accept what I say without any kind of hesitation. None accepted the sermons of Jesus without hesitation. People who heard the preachings of Jesus became furious and they could not control their anger, so they decided to kill Him.
One day, Jesus went to Capernaum and preached the words of God. And men who heard it suddenly stood up and grabbed Him by the throat and led Him to a cliff to throw Him down (Luke 4:29). One day, when the servant of God, Stephen, was preaching the gospel, people who heard it, could not bear it because the words of God from Stephen pierced their heart. So they covered their ears and threw the dust into the air, and then, stoned him to death saying, "This man must die" (Acts 7).
Similarily, the same thing happened to Paul, an apostle of Jesus. The true words of God conflict with our thoughts in many ways. We have the heart to accept the aspects we agree with, for they suits our thoughts and our understanding, but we do not accept the parts which do not agree with our thoughts and with our opinions.
Therefore, even though we hear a sermon, we think;
'That's right. Very good!' And,
'Hmmmm ... That's not right! How can he say such a thing!'
Likewise, we only accept what we agree with. That's why God's words cannot work in us.
God's wisdom is beyond human wisdom. The power of God is beyond our ability. God's thoughts are beyond our thoughts. Because a thing that comes from God does not mean it is of this world. Things from the world are totally different from the things of God. Therefore, they are too much for us to perceive or understand. Because of that, we say, "If the Lord would make windows in heaven, could such a thing be?"
I am speaking to you now. If I say something which agrees with your thoughts, you all say,
"Right! Yes! What Pastor Park says is right. He preaches such a gracious sermon."
But if it's not in accord with your heart, you all say,
"Well! Even though God says ... I'll ... "
"God says that, but ..."
Wouldn't you agree?
God can't perform His work in you, because you can not accept the words of God for your heart does not agree with them.
Now, there were four leprous men at the entrance of the gate. The officer did not believe when God's words said, "About this time tomorrow, there will be plenty of food." Why should God choose those four lepers? Because they were the people without any hope. Jesus is our hope. More specifically, He is actually hope for hopeless people. If someone has hope of his own, Jesus can not be his hope. If someone has happiness of his own, believing Jesus can not be his happiness. If someone has joy of his own, Jesus cannot be his joy. Jesus is the hope for the hopeless; Jesus is the comfort for people who sorrow; and Jesus is the one who set the captive free. He is Almighty one.
Why did God use those four lepers to rescue the city of Samaria? The four lepers were totally hopeless people. I believe that those who think they are doing well in their religious lives will not receive salvation. Rather, those who think they are not doing well and say, "I can't escape from destruction, or the power of the sinful nature" shall receive their salvation.
If the boy could get down from the top of the mast, his father would not have shown him what to do. When he lost all his will, all his power, even his wisdom, and he was hopeless, his father saved him using his way. "Now, throw yourself! And jump into the ocean!" This was the father's method while the boy was hanging tightly onto the mast. The father's way was to make him jump. There was a contrast between the son's way and the father's way. Throw your methods away. And take Jesus' way. If you do, then you will be filled with the Holy Spirit.
I once had an evangelical meeting in a leper's colony called 'Yuhsoo-Aaeyang-Won'. Pastor Yang Won Sohn used to minister there. During the Korean war, a communist killed Rev. Sohn's son. But even though, he killed his only son, Rev. Sohn rescued the murderer from being executed by petitioning a pardon; and adopted him as his own son. Like a saint, Rev. Shon established a leper's colony and he personally sucked the pus (of lepers) out with his own mouth and took very good care of them.
While I was there, many people came to hear the gospel to be cleansed of their sins. They were lepers, who had fallen into sin even before the leprosy appeared. After the sermon, we invited them to come and be cleansed. "Whoever wants to be cleansed of their sin, come forward." Several hundreds of people lifted their hands and came forward that night. Many were cleansed of their sins and they shed tears of happiness. When I saw that my heart was filled with joy.
Jesus came to free us from sins. Jesus does not want to make us just church members. Jesus did not come to make us baptized Christians. He did not come to make us deacons, or elders. Jesus came to set us free from our sins forever. Only those people who are freed from sin can come before the Lord righteously.
The four lepers had no way to live, so they discussed the way to survive.
"If we remain here, we're just waiting for death."
"There is not enough food to keep us alive."
The first leper said in anger,
"Even the people of the city are dying of hunger, so we have no hope."
"How can they give us food when they are eating their own children."
The third one said,
"Well, I can not remember when I had my last meal. It was a long time ago." The last one replied,
"Before I became a leper, I used to be a farmer."
"I used to harvest sweet potatoes from my farm in the fall, and we threshed grains and cooked steamed rice to eat. Those were good times ..."
"Hey! Stop talking about eating. I'm getting hungrier." One of them yelled.
They complained about their hard life. They were just waiting for death. Suddenly, a leper among them said,
"Hey! Listen! We cannot sit here and wait for death. Let's look for a way to survive? Let's find a way to stay alive."
"What shall we do?" They asked one another.
"How many options do we have? None."
"We have no place to go, why don't we just go to the Syrians and surrender ourselves?"
"No! Not that. How could we surrender ourselves to our enemies?"
That's a horrible idea. However, in order to surrender oneself, one must change one's mind first. To give up means to throw away one's thoughts; change one's direction.
Because their way was not working out, they decided on a different method, at the risk of their lives. God is looking for men like these four lepers. If you are searching for God in your own way, you'll fail. That's when you should find a new way.
These lepers tried something they had never tried before. They thought it might be dangerous, but it was better than dying from starvation. So, they went to their enemies with the hope that they might be spared, and God blessed their way.
Listen! You don't sit down under an apple tree, and open your mouth till an apple falls into your mouth. Instead you say,
"Oh, Lord, I am surely a sinner who can only be condemned. Please open your way for me."
Friends, you dispaly a heart of one who can be cleansed. "I cast out my ways and my methods. I want to walk in a new way which God has provided for me. I turn my steps in a new direction." When the multitude came to Jesus, they renewed their minds; Zacchaeus, the adulterous woman, and the Samaritan woman renewed their minds. On the contrary, people who did not change their minds when they heard Jesus, were against Jesus and condemned Him. Friends, don't just try to be a 'good' person in the church. First, change your heart. If you don't cast your thoughts out and change your mind, you will just be a churchgoer.
In 2 Kings chapter 5, Naaman, commander of the army of the Syrian king, came to Elisha to be healed of his leprosy, but Elisha said, "Go and wash in the Jordan seven times." Naaman got angry. "I am a commander of the army, indeed. I thought that Elisha would stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy. What? Go and wash in the Jordan seven times!" Naaman was angry that he wanted to go back. If one doesn't throw away one's thought, one will always be like Naaman in 2 Kings 5:11.
Among the multitude who came before Jesus, many left Him in agony. Some people left Him with resentment, and some rebelled against Jesus. This was because they did not desert their methods.
These four lepers abandoned their thoughts and their ways, and stepped into a new direction. Because they had suffered from starvation, and sickness, they were ill sticken; their fingers and toes were falling off and their bodies were in terrible condition. As they tumbled over stones and bushes, on their way to the Syrian camp, they said to one another,